Bake

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Buns With Browned Butter Cream Cheese Glaze

November  8, 2019
7 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
Author Notes

My son loves my sweet potato soup. I feel as if I just won ten James Beard Awards from this tiny critic who would always rather be eating yogurt. He looked at the spoon tentatively before the first bite. I could practically see the thought bubble pop up beside his head. “This is orange?! No thank you, Mama.” I persisted and he opened his mouth. He slurped, nodded, and opened his mouth right back up again. We did it again. And again. I couldn’t help but kiss his round cheeks in between each bite. He was eating my food. He liked it. And it was good for him.

In my acceptance speeches, I will have to thank these sweet potato cinnamon buns. While working on the recipe, I had roasted so many extra potatoes that I had to find another use for them. Like my baby, I love sweet potatoes in all forms, but I’m especially fond of adding them to sweet breads. They add flavor and give them a pillow-soft texture. Swirled with cinnamon and topped with luscious cream cheese glaze, these guys made for a lovely indulgence after such a nutritious lunch.

Reprinted with permission from THE JOYS OF BAKING © 2019 by Samantha Seneviratne, Running Press.Samantha Seneviratne

Watch This Recipe
Sweet Potato Cinnamon Buns With Browned Butter Cream Cheese Glaze
  • Prep time 3 hours 45 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Makes 10 buns
Ingredients
  • Dough
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for bowl and skillet
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup roasted and puréed sweet potato flesh (from 1 potato)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting, if necessary
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Cinnamon filling
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pepita filling
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 ounces pepitas (2/3 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • Glaze
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Prepare the dough: In a small pot, bring the milk just to a boil over medium heat. Watch closely to ensure that the milk doesn’t boil over. Remove from the heat and add the butter to the pot to melt. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and let it cool to 110° to 115°F. (It should be warm to the touch, but not too hot.) Add the egg and sweet potato purée and stir to combine.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl and using a wooden spoon, combine the flour, brown sugar, yeast, and salt. Add the warm milk mixture and mix just until incorporated.
  3. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough on low speed (or knead with your hands) until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a buttered bowl, cover it, and leave it in a warm, draft-free spot until it has doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Prepare the cinnamon filling: Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Add the butter and mash to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
  5. Prepare the pepita filling: Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pepitas and salt and cook until lightly browned and popping, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the sugar has melted and coated the pepitas, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. Wipe the skillet out with a paper towel and let cool.
  6. Butter the cast-iron pan. Tip out the dough onto a very lightly floured work surface. Roll it into a 12 x 11–inch rectangle. Spread the cinnamon filling evenly over the surface. Break up the sugared pepitas into smaller pieces and sprinkle over the cinnamon filling. Tightly roll up the dough and pinch the top seam closed. With a serrated knife, cut the roll crosswise into 10 equal pieces. Set them in the pan, spirals facing upward. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let them rest until the dough has almost doubled again, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Uncover the rolls and bake until golden brown and puffed and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 185° to 190°F, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze: Cook the butter in a small skillet over medium heat until the milk solids have turned golden brown and the butter smells nutty, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and chill in the freezer until cool and just beginning to solidify.
  9. Beat the chilled butter, cream cheese, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is exactly as thick as you like it.
  10. Transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then top with glaze. Let cool slightly before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Franca
    Franca
  • Betsy
    Betsy
  • osborns
    osborns
  • Margaret
    Margaret

11 Reviews

Franca February 1, 2021
Although these were not bad, they didn't delivery the swoon I was expecting when I bit into them. The pepitas were wonderful, but lost all their crunchy coating which must have melted into the buns as they were baking. If I make these again, I think I would sprinkle the pepitas on top of the icing.
 
Betsy December 19, 2020
I made these last Christmas and they were the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had, plus the family went nuts over them. These are becoming a Christmas morning tradition and I can’t wait to make them again in a few days!
 
osborns October 4, 2020
This was amazing! I omitted the pumpkin seeds and instead added a couple tablespoons of pumpkin purée to the butter in the filling. Probably would have tased of fall either way! When I make cinnamon rolls, during both rises I put them in a turned off oven with a pan of boiling water underneath, which helps them rise better. I also added the yeast to warm egg mix rather than waiting until I poured the wet into the dry. It probably works fine both ways, but this is how I’m used to doing it! But the show stopper here is the brown butter glaze. Don’t skip browning the butter!
 
Margaret October 3, 2020
Should I strain out the dark brown milk solids from the browned butter? Or do you include them?
Thank you
 
osborns October 4, 2020
Definitely include them! I did and it tasted wonderful
 
gwatt October 2, 2020
These were wonderful! They took all evening to make, but really weren't difficult. The dough came out perfectly (I used instant yeast) The only problem I had was that I couldn't get the brown sugar to stick to the pepitas, which didn't affect the end result. Also, I would probably just use regular white icing next time to avoid the brown butter step.
 
gwatt October 2, 2020
These were wonderful! They took all evening to make, but really weren't difficult. The dough came out perfectly (I used instant yeast) The only problem I had was that I couldn't get the brown sugar to stick to the pepitas, which didn't affect the end result. Also, I would probably just use regular white icing next time to avoid the brown butter step.
 
gwatt October 2, 2020
These were wonderful! They took all evening to make, but really weren't difficult. The dough came out perfectly (I used instant yeast) The only problem I had was that I couldn't get the brown sugar to stick to the pepitas, which didn't affect the end result. Also, I would probably just use regular white icing next time to avoid the brown butter step.
 
gwatt October 2, 2020
These were wonderful! They took all evening to make, but really weren't difficult. The dough came out perfectly (I used instant yeast) The only problem I had was that I couldn't get the brown sugar to stick to the pepitas, which didn't affect the end result. Also, I would probably just use regular white icing next time to avoid the brown butter step.
 
whatever August 21, 2020
Made just the brown butter cream cheese glaze—spread it on Bon Appetit's banana bread. This was a bribe to convince my brother to do me a favor. It worked. So good.
 
Kelly M. December 14, 2019
Can we have the soup recipe too?? 😊